Artists all over are deserving of much praise, and that is precisely what the Order of National Artists — or ‘Orden ng Gawad Pambansang Alagad ng Sining’ — celebrates on April 27. This honor is given to all those Filipino citizens who have significantly contributed to the Philippine arts and cultural scene. This is actually the highest prestige given to people in the Philippines, and only the best of the best are recommended for this honor.
History of Order of National Artists
The people living in the Philippines have been painting since the pre-colonial era. Every colonial period in the country influenced their art and culture. The Islamic period in the 13th century brought calligraphy, architecture, painting, and more. The Spaniards introduced artistic paintings when they arrived in the 16th century.
The resulting art is a beautiful mix of Renaissance, Baroque, and even the Modern Periods.
The Philippine government recognized the treasure their art world holds and aimed to provide official honor to the artists and people contributing to this sphere. And so, in 1972, they proclaimed a special award — the ‘Award and Decoration of National Artist’ — which commemorated all outstanding contributions to Philippine art disciplines — dance, music, theater, visual arts, literature, film and broadcast art, architecture, design, and allied arts.
The award was soon elevated to a higher level, gaining ‘cultural order’ status upon a proclamation by the Philippine government in 2003. Now, this honor comes fourth after other major awards in the Philippines. ‘The National Artist Award’ was given a new name to go along with the new honor; it was now called the Order of National Artists. As for how the artists on which honors were to be bestowed were selected, that was a long and painstaking process and remains so even today.
The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (N.C.C.A.) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (C.C.P.) are the two main cultural bodies in charge — together called the Order of National Artists Award Secretariat (O.N.A.A.). They form a special research group that ensures the entire process is impartial. Two special groups — a panel of experts and a jury of experts — comprising critics, researchers, scholars, and others screen the initial recommendations. The jury of experts then checks the short-listed candidates, giving their recommendations to the O.N.A.A. The O.N.A.A., in turn, presents a final list to the Philippine president, who confirms, proclaims, and confers the Order status to the selected candidates.
Order of National Artists timeline
The law establishes a new award — ‘The Award and Decoration of National Artist’ — to recognize those contributing to raising Philippine arts and culture to new heights.
Pioneering portraitist and painter Fernando Amorsolo is posthumously awarded the ‘National Artist’ honor, recognizing his worth as one of the most important artists in Philippine history.
Four artists are recommended for this honor, but the President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo adds three more names at the last minute, all of whom have not passed the rigorous selection process; claims of favoritism force the Philippine government to pass a law four years later requiring National Artist recommendations from all advisory bodies and not just one person.
Awards are given to seven artists, but no National Artist awards have been forthcoming ever since because of various issues.
Order of National Artists FAQs
What are the considerations to confer a National Artist?
There are multiple considerations in finalizing who will be granted the prestigious honor of being the Philippines’ National Artist. Some of these include Filipino citizenship, the artists’ expertise, how much their works have influenced new artists, and if their work has impacted the Philippines’ nation-building.
How many National Artists are there in the Philippines?
So far, including Fernando Amorsolo, only 73 artists have been awarded the prestigious Order of National Artists.
Who is the best National Artist in the Philippines?
Most websites, forms of popular opinion, and historians put Fernando Amorsolo at the top of this list.
Order of National Artists Activities
Enjoy Filipino art and culture
Explore old and new works that exemplify the Filipino spirit. Get your hands on works by past National Artists like Fernando Poe, Jr. or Eddie S. Romero (cinema), Edith L. Tiempo or Jose Garcia Villa (literature), Ryan Cayabyab or Andrea Veneracion (music), and many more. It’s even more exciting to discover a new culture.
Read up on past National Artists
Learn about their lives, their works, and how the prestige affected their lives. You can find more information on a few official websites or even from books written about this event.
Learn how art blossomed in the Philippines
See how the Philippines went from being a culture influenced by traditional art to one whose influences span the globe. Multiple books, videos, and literature document this rich history, complete with examples from each period of influence.
5 Cool Facts About The Order Of National Artists
New award categories are popping up
Namely 'Fashion Design' — which later fell under the 'Architecture, Design and Allied Arts' umbrella — and another for 'Historical Literature.'
Not a yearly event
This event actually occurs only once every three years.
What awardees get
National Artists get a cash award (claimed by legal heirs in case of a posthumous win), the title of ‘Order of National Artist,’ a life pension, and medical and hospital benefits.
Awardees also get gold
A gold-plated medallion, to be precise, is known as the 'Grand Collar' and is minted by the central bank of the Philippines.
On par with global counterparts
The Order of National Artists is similar in position to the U.S. National Medal for the Arts and Japan's Order of Culture.
Why We Love Order of National Artists
We discover artistic work
Outstanding art, literature, music, and more are brought to the forefront of the world's consciousness with this event. We can't wait to explore more treasures.
Filipino artists get recognition
And not just by their peers, but by the world too. Their works live in people's memories forever, inspiring and influencing future generations.
Filipino arts shine
The Philippines Government and artistic bodies already believe their nominated artists are the best of the best, and with this special event, they share their pride with the public. The Order of National Artists can actually help showcase a whole new body of work to their own country and the world.
Order of National Artists dates